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Smriti Mandhana wants to add more power for India

India opener and No. 1 ODI batswoman Smriti Mandhana is in no mood to take it easy after a memorable season and is busy tweaking her all-round game in the lead up to the Women’s T20 World Cup early next year.

The season that went by saw the 22-year-old reach the top of the ODI rankings. Smriti is not just known for her stylish strokeplay anymore. She has added the much needed power to her game to meet the demands of the modern game.

After a fruitful fitness camp at the NCA in Bengaluru, Smriti said she remains a work in progress. “It was a good fitness camp.

Finally, after a year or two, we got a month off. It was good for us to come back and do a fitness camp. It was much needed because we are going to have a hectic eight months, so we have to get our body prepared for the grind.”

On her batting, she said: “I and coach Raman Sir have been discussing quite a bit about my game. How I can become more consistent in T20 cricket, how I can add more power to my game. I still feel I need to improve on that front. You have to improve because other teams are also keeping an eye on you. Adding new shots is not something which I am looking at. I am looking to consistently hit the same length of balls in different places,” Smriti, who is confident of another stellar season in the Kia Super League to be held in the United Kingdom next month, said.

While she was India’s standout performer in ODIs and T20s, the team’s performance in the shortest format has left a lot to be desired as it lost six games in a row.

The team did not have enough fire-power and though the issues facing the side were discussed at length in the camp, Smriti feels there is still a long way to go.

“Fitness was a major point of discussion. Raman sir and we collectively discussed that fitness needs to be better to be a potent T20 side. It is being worked out.” With the likes of Smriti, Jemimah Rodrigues and Harmanpreet Kaur playing their part, the team needs more aggressive batters, especially in the middle order.

“Our batting depth has to improve and Raman sir has been speaking to all the batters on the aspect of power hitting. It is more mental than anything else. That is what Raman sir has been stressing on. He has given the freedom to the batters to express themselves rather than holding back,” she said.

The former World No. 3 doubles star Rohan Bopanna requested live streaming of matches featuring Indians. It was after nearly a year that Rohan Bopanna was able to lay his hands on the Arjuna award, as he received it from the Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju.

“It is an amazing feeling to hold the award. Definitely, I would have loved to receive it from the President at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, along with other athletes and achievers. But that does not take anything away from the thrill of receiving it,” said Bopanna, who received the trophy along with his wife Supriya Annaiah.

Bopanna, a former World No. 3 doubles star, said he enjoyed his meeting with the minister. “He is such a big tennis fan, and has been watching tennis for a long time. We spoke for nearly 45 minutes and it was very positive. He also talked about following women’s cricket, as Smriti Mandhana also got the award today,” said Bopanna.

During his interaction with the Sports Minister, Bopanna also requested that all the matches featuring Indian tennis players on the Tour be streamed live on the internet for the benefit of youngsters in the country. “It may be difficult to get it on television, but live streaming is something that can inspire the young players. The minister was very receptive and said that he would see how it can be done,” said Bopanna.

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